Expert Insights

London developers embrace the benefits of building up

The tallest building in the world today is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai measuring 2716 feet. In order to reach the mile high mark (5,280 feet) this would need to nearly double in size.

The audience at our most recent Building Up event predicted the world’s first mile high building would most likely be in Bejing (40%) with Dubai (32%) a close second. The large majority felt it was unlikely to be completed until at least 2040 (36%) with many thinking we’d have to wait another ten years until 2050 (38%).

With pressure for growth and land values at record levels, property experts are seeking innovative ways to deliver high quality developments at increased densities. The second in our Building Up series of events looked at how new techniques and developments in the construction of tall buildings can help address the challenges building up poses.

Our panel discussed a number of topical issues in front of a full house at our Fleet Place offices. Speakers included:

Professor Michael Cesarz, CEO for MULTI at thyssenkrupp Elevator showcased their impressive rope-less elevator, which not only moves vertically but also horizontally.

Matt Gough, Director of innovation and work winning at Mace group, discussed their innovative Jump Factory and how it tackles the challenges of building up - as well as being 30% faster than traditional methods.

Steve Toon, Design Director at AKT, showcased a number of high-rise residential developments in the context of the challenges around stability and how these are overcome.

Bart Kavanagh of Probyn Miers touched upon the threats when building high – particularly around fire. Followed by Peter Chesterfield of Marsh, who gave his view on the key insurance risks for tall buildings.

Over 100 attendees from the real estate and construction sector were polled on a number of issues and provided some really interesting results. Around 50% of participants believed that the most innovation in the design and construction of tall buildings over the next 5 years will come from changes in off-site construction technology and methodology. When then asked about the outlook over a longer period of 10 years, off-site construction technology and methodology remained the top choice at 29% but was followed closely by innovations in building design processes, including BIM, at 25%.

The questions then moved on to tall buildings in London generally. 52% of the audience considered them an inevitable consequence of pressure on land use and 40% said they were fans of tall buildings. Perhaps surprisingly in the wider context only 8% viewed tall buildings in a negative light but we did have an audience full of developers! With this in mind, we asked when and where we are likely to see the first ‘mile-high’ building – our audience was largely divided between 2040 (36%) and 2050 (38%) and between Beijing (40%) or Dubai (32%).

Finally we asked our guests if they were living in a tall residential building of 40 storeys, what floor level they would choose. 49% of those surveyed had a head for heights and would prefer to be on the upper most floors, with perhaps unsurprisingly the ground floor the least favoured.

Our next event in the campaign will look at the specific challenges posed by tall buildings in the residential context. Visit the Building Up campaign hub for regular updates in our thought leadership series and do let us know if there are any particular issues you would like us to explore.

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